Imagine leading a project involving hundreds of workers, no email, lots of big egos, and with a timeline of several hundred years. And yet many such art & architecture projects have been very (!) successfully completed in Italy over the last several thousand years (hence: appreciative tourists).
But it does make sense that some projects wouldn’t be as well executed as others: political errors, funding challenges, or a change in management could cause a building to remain half-finished. All of which means: you can’t necessarily judge a church by its façade. The churches below are very impressive on the inside but with façades that took the hit from project management errors.
Begun in 1419, this church is attributed to the famous architect Brunelleschi, but due to a change in management and a lack of funds, the only part of his design that was actually implemented is the transept. Then, 100 years into the project, Michelangelo was commissioned by the Pope to design a façade out of white marble, which he did, but (as you can see) was never added. Michelangelo did however build an internal façade, and funds are currently being raised to complete the external façade according to his specification.
Construction of this church started in 1292 but was stopped when the plague hit in 1348. The lower part of the façade was finished 100 years later. The art and wooden choir inside are worth a visit. Okay I guess when your whole team and your whole backup team are sick with the plague, it’s more unlucky than bad planning. But they still didn’t manage to finish the façade after everyone got healthy.
There are lots of examples here!
Construction of this Basilica began in the 14th century and lasted several hundred years. Then 120 years into the project, the city of Bologna decided the Basilica could rival St. Peter’s in Rome, in size, footprint, and ornamentation. The building project immediately lost the support of the Pope, and the proposed Latin cross design was never finished, so the church is in the shape of a T. And none of the many proposals for finishing the façade were accepted.
However the church has still had a long and important history. And when you visit the inside, you’ll see that it had a big (just not big enough) budget: there are incredible stained glass windows, marble walls and ornamentation, two organs, frescoes, an amazing altar, the longest sundial in the world. All this, and a capacity of 28,000 people.
Photo of San Petronio by Il Cama; Photo of San Lorenzo by Rogilde; Photo of San Fortunato by Gaspa; Photo of San Marcuola by Steve Knight
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